How About That Nutty Star Wars Bar?
  • How About That Nutty Star Wars Bar?


    Back in 1977, a couple of weekend after it opened, my mother took my younger brother and I to a movie that changed things for a lot of people. That movie was, of course, Star Wars. A short ten years later, all three of the original Star Wars movies had come out and everyone thought that there wouldn't be any more movies coming out. That was when West End Games entered with their Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. Thirty years later, Fantasy Flight Games (the current holder of the Star Wars gaming license) are putting out a slipcased edition of that original game, along with the Star Wars Sourcebook.


    I came into the Star Wars Roleplaying Game with West End Games' second edition, nearly ten years after this so this new facsimile edition is really my first encounter with the original edition of Star Wars.

    One of the things that was interesting to me about this original edition is that, like so many games that came out over the course of the first ten or fifteen years of game design is that the setting comes secondary to the rule. Yes, this is the Star Wars role-playing game, but despite a number of photos from the original trilogy, write ups of X-Wing and TIE fighters and the Millennium Falcon, not to mention an obvious section on The Force, there really isn't an overwhelming Star Warsness to the rule book.

    I'm sure that some will disagree with me on this, but I don't think that this edition of Star Wars is all that Star Wars. That isn't a negative. With the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, West End Games made one of the best and most influential science fiction/science fantasy role-playing games to have been published. I would go so far as to say that the Star Wars Roleplaying Game is more important to science fiction gaming than Traveller or post-apocalyptic games like Gamma World. The D6 System, originally created for West End Games' first licensed RPG, Ghostbusters, is a simple and elegant role-playing ruleset that is incredibly robust despite that simplicity.

    If your exposure to the D6 System is via the Purgatory Publishing era of West End Games, you were exposed to a more complicated version of the rules that drew upon elements of other West End Games like Masterbook and Shatterzone, and that added advantages, disadvantages and special abilities to characters. This stream of the D6 System also added another attribute to characters and based what had been Force Abilities off of that attribute. This more contemporary version of the rules isn't really better or worse, there are just more moving parts to the system. Both have their advantages and disadvantages to them. If you like a game with more mechanical "bite" to it, the later D6 System games like D6 Space will likely be more to your interest.

    The game uses a system of pools of six-sided dice to determine a character's successes in the game. For example, if your character has a 4D score in their blaster skill you would roll 4 six-sided dice to determine whether or not your character hits their target. The single die type coupled with a simple task resolution system makes the game easy to play, regardless of how experienced you might be with role-playing. This ease of play has always been one of the great strengths of the game, regardless of which incarnation of the D6 System that you use.

    I like the simplicity of the original edition of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. The second edition probably does a better job of being a Star Wars game, and it has the benefit of being able to add later Extended Universe concepts like Force Sensitivity. I would also say that the second edition benefits from an additional near decade of experience with running Star Wars games. However, I like the raw energy of the original edition better, and the less overtly Star Wars nature of the game means that you can conceivably do a lot more with the game's rules as written. A friend wrote a pretty good blog post about how he used the original edition of the Star Wars game for swords & sorcery fantasy role-playing.

    As later genre books like D6 Adventure and D6 Fantasy demonstrated, the D6 System can be used for a number of different genres and types of campaigns.

    Now, in case you've never played the D6 version of Star Wars, and you're concerned that there's just not enough Star Wars in this game for you, don't worry. This is why the second book in the slipcase is there. The Star Wars Sourcebook has all the Star Wars (up to the time of the original trilogy, obviously) that you'll need to run a classic Star Wars campaign. In the Sourcebook you'll find the heroes and villains of the original trilogy, maps of important locations like Rebel bases, blueprint for the Millennium Falcon, common creatures of the universe and much more. It seems like they realized that they needed more Star Wars in their Star Wars and made up for any setting shortcomings with the Sourcebook. With these two books you'll have all the tools that you need for classic Star Wars gaming.

    They are hard to find, but if you can come across any of the Galaxy Guides published by West End Games (at a decent price) I would suggest picking them up for your games. Each Guide focuses on a particular location or starship type, and they made them for each of the original trilogy movies as well. The Galaxy Guides focus in greater detail on these locations, giving more information and writeups for the important characters as well. I have the Galaxy Guides for A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The Guide for A New Hope gives a lot of information on Mos Eisley, which could make for an excellent starting point for anyone's Star Wars campaign.

    This reissue of the original edition of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is geared towards people who weren't in gaming when it came out the first time. There's nothing new in this reissue for people who already have these books from the first time around, except of course for the Star Wars completionists. If you've heard for years about the greatness of this role-playing game, and want to experience it for yourself, this is the place to do it. Ignore the unauthorized pirates and go with this set of books instead. I don't think that you will regret your choices.

    You will also see the inspiration of the D6 System and Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game upon more contemporary games like Savage Worlds. The D6 System itself continues on. Khepera Publishing successfully Kickstarted their Mythic D6 rules, an evolution of the D6 Legend rules that were used in West End Games' DC Comics role-playing game. Nocturnal Media plans a new edition of the core D6 System that will also be Kickstarted. The core rules had previously been released under the OGL, and there are a number of publishers who have utilized those rules.

    Hopefully we will see a renaissance of D6 System games in the near future.

    The reissue is also dedicated to Stewart Wieck, who had purchased the last of the West End Games assets (including the rights to the D6 System and the West End Games name) to reintroduce them to the world through his Nocturnal Media company. Wieck and Nocturnal Media worked with Fantasy Flight Games to produce the files that were used to print these books. Unfortunately, Wieck did not live to see this co-production come out.
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Michael_Wolf's Avatar
      Michael_Wolf -
      Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is still my favorite d6 System game. It's pretty rules-light, flexible, and fast. Later editions IMHO just dragged down everything by added complexity, the Wild Die, more tactical combat. It's a nice move that FFG is rereleasing it as an anniversary edition, but I fear it might almost impossible to track down here in Europe.
    1. Kobold Boots -
      Ran this game for a 6 month run somewhere around 1991. What I remember of the books is that there was a significant section on how to run a game that feels like star wars. While it wasn't a huge part of the book it was pretty critical to getting a good experience out of the game. There were certain critical scene types that existed in every SW movie that were put together like a framework to effectively evoke theme.

      Only system I had run at that point where players actively said "Hey this felt like SW". While it made me feel rather good, it was all due to the support the books had for the setting.
    1. Michael_Wolf's Avatar
      Michael_Wolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kobold Boots View Post
      Only system I had run at that point where players actively said "Hey this felt like SW".
      I fully agree. The FFG Star Wars games are close, but even though I love their system, it feels much, much slower than the old WEG game - especially in combats.
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      I had these two books, and then some other materials from WEG, back in 1987 when they all came out. I remember being really blown away by the customizable templates for characters, which established a very SW-accurate feel through those archetypes. I was also, after having played DnD and Star Frontiers, really impressed by the unified mechanic, covering combat, skills, and starships - that wasn't the norm back in the mid-80s.

      I, too, didn't like subsequent versions very much, for the reason cited above: unnecessary complexity and rules-creep. I was excited about FFG's version, and played it for a while before tiring of the dice mechanic - it really does lead to a much slower table, and slow combat especially, which is the killer of a 'cinematic' vibe. If ever I run SW again, it'll be with these rules, using the old books I have.
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      I enjoyed the heck out of the West End Games Star Wars RPG back in the day. I worked really hard at capturing that Star Wars feel. I ran this and the Palladium Robotech RPG at around the same time, and this was the first time I really tried to capture the mood of a cinematic property. I learned a lot from doing so, but kinda wish I had been more willing to jump out on my own with it.

      I recall the Star Wars RPG having plenty of Star Wars’ feel. But with the supplements (which it’s crazy to read about how integral to the world-shaping of the Star Wars franchise some of them are), it seemed like the RPG got a little zanier, a little weirder.
    1. Mortus -
      I recently played in a six month campaign of D6 SW and it played fast and fun. I also GMed two FFG SW campaigns of similar duration before that. In my experience both versions ran about the same in combats. The FFG SW combats ran maybe 10% longer. These games were with players that know the rules well and have years of experience playing and GMing.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      I collected the WEG Star Wars books because they were Star Wars. Never ran the game, just enjoyed the books. Our SF RPG of choice was well established as Traveller (and by then MegaTraveller). They never gave that "Star Wars" feel, but we were more long term SciFi fans. I still look at H. Beam Piper, Andre Norton and Poul Anderson for my science fiction inspiration (along with newer authors like James S. A. Corey).


      *edit* When I did run a Star Wars game in the late 1990s I used Mekton Zeta. I built everything from Tie Fighters to the Death Star using the Mekton Zeta Plus book. For me, Star Wras always felt like Anime (or vice versa)
    1. Olgar Shiverstone's Avatar
      Olgar Shiverstone -
      The d6 Holocron -- assuming it's still around -- has/had a lot of tools and material for enhancing a WEG d6 Star Wars game.
    1. Tun Kai Poh's Avatar
      Tun Kai Poh -
      A great review of a great book. This game, together with its contemporary, Ghostbusters, showed me there was a lot more to RPGs than just D&D.
    1. VengerSatanis -
      The d6 dice pool never goes out of style. Kort'thalis Publishing has been using a variation on that system for the last 5 years.

      When will the re-issued books be available on Amazon?

      VS
    1. Tlalchitonatiuh's Avatar
      Tlalchitonatiuh -
      I actually cut my teeth with roleplaying back in 1992 or 93 with the second edition rules. At the time one of my closest friends brother brought back a bunch of unsellable (damaged during production) copies of the core book and some sourcebooks from work for us for christmas. I didnt know that my friend chuck's big brother Bill wrote the second edition core book, I just thought it was cool he worked for a gaming company and gave us free books haha. Oh the joys of being 12. A few years later bill ran us through a small campaign with the second ed rules, and as we had aged and had more appreciation for it, we realized how rare a treat it was to have the guy who wrote the book run for us in his kitchen haha.
    1. Eltab's Avatar
      Eltab -
      Star Wars games are clearly more important to the development of sci-fi gaming than Gamma World. (And it pains me to say that.) Because GW rules got diverted out into the weeds with the everything-is-resolved-on-this-rainbow-colored-chart version (GWvol3?). The setting has since become independent of the rules, adaptable to whatever the most popular rule system of any given time may happen to be.
      However I think Traveler and Star Wars are equally important to sci-fi gaming. Traveler started with the science and the rules then worked out to the story. Star Wars, conversely, started with a very well-known story and wrote rules (plus justified the pseudo-science) that allowed you to enter that universe and play / tell your own story in it.

      I happen to like Traveler's system generation rules (despite / because of the potential detail level available in e.g. Grand Survey); the original few pages in The Traveler Book can be used as an 'idea generator' to describe what may be found on a Star Wars planet once you get away from the starport city and its cantina.
    1. Jacob Lewis's Avatar
      Jacob Lewis -
      An important aspect of this game that I learned recently was how it influenced the SW expanded universe. The designers helped shaped the Star Wars galaxy by coming up for names of species, planets, etc that had not been done at the time. Lucas never gave much thought to the creatures in the cantina scene where costume designers basically had free reign to just come up with as many costumes as possible. WEG gave us depth and names for Rodian, Trandoshan, Twi'lek, and dozens more. Their contribution to Star Wars in general is considerable.
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Quote Originally Posted by VengerSatanis View Post
      When will the re-issued books be available on Amazon?
      According to the FFG website, the release date is today. I have no idea when they'll be on Amazon - my pre-order is with another site.

      Edit: Found it! Apparently, they'll have it in stock from the 8th.
    1. VengerSatanis -
      Awesome, thanks! FYI, in the lower right corner of the Amazon page, I just saw a new original (how does that happen) book going for 80 bucks. Yowch!
    1. Lord_Blacksteel's Avatar
      Lord_Blacksteel -
      One of the things that was interesting to me about this original edition is that, like so many games that came out over the course of the first ten or fifteen years of game design is that the setting comes secondary to the rule.

      Wow, this is the first time I've ever heard this particular criticism for this set of rules. Weirdly, pretty much every comment I've heard is how much the rules reflect the Star Wars setting. To the point that 30 years later it's still the preferred system for many for running Star Wars games even for players who came to it later!

      I mean this isn't the usual offender for this complaint: a house system adapted to a universe it really does not fit. A version of this system was used for the Ghostbusters RPG a year earlier but there were quite a few changes between it and the version you see in these books.

      I just don't think I've ever seen a comment that the rules override the setting in this game.

      Yes, this is the
      Star Wars role-playing game, but despite a number of photos from the original trilogy, write ups of X-Wing and TIE fighters and the Millennium Falcon, not to mention an obvious section on The Force, there really isn't an overwhelming Star Warsness to the rule book.

      I can tell you in 1987 it was the Star-Warsiest RPG book in existence. I think this is a symptom of being exposed to later versions of the game because it was pretty overwhelming at the time. The Sourcebook sent it over the top with "here's everything you saw in the movies statted up in game form" but the rulebook itself was a really strong start. The cover, the interior images, the names, the examples, yes a section on The Force(!), the GM sections "Running Adventures" and "Designing Adventures", the 24 templates for player characters, and the starting adventure are all very much Star Wars.

      I'm sure that some will disagree with me on this, but I don't think that this edition of Star Wars is all that Star Wars. That isn't a negative.

      Again in contrast some people think it's more Star Wars than the later editions. I've run a fair amount of Star Wars in every official version from this to FFG and some non-official versions and if you want the lightest version of the d6 Star Wars rules, this is where you will find it.

      The "Rules Upgrade" document does have some nice clarifications.

      Also note that this version does not have the Wild Die mechanic that was built in to the second edition and beyond. It's worth checking out.
    1. Grainger's Avatar
      Grainger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Lewis View Post
      An important aspect of this game that I learned recently was how it influenced the SW expanded universe.
      Well, I'll try not to hold that against it!
    1. aramis erak's Avatar
      aramis erak -
      Much like the 2d20 Star Trek Adventures, the WEG SW 1E doesn't build the setting into the mechanics much, but does have mechanics that don't interfere with the setting.

      Only the Force Points, Dark Side, and Control/Sense/Alter force skills really enforce the setting.

      One should realize, tho', that shortly after launch, they produced a 4 page "Rules Upgrade" errata sheet. And, about a year and a half later, released the Rules Companion, adding the big ships, rules for fighting with them, and many more force powers... and the scaling system which would later be used in 2E...

      «yoda» Always in flux, the rules were. Always in flux. Never satisfied with what printed they had, always looking for things to fix they were.«/yoda»

      I love 2 of the 3 editions of WEG (I'm no fan of 2R&E - I dislike the art, the layout, and the rules changes. It was, however, a simplification from 2E.)

      1E was really an odd game - initiative being your success total, everything measure in how many dice to throw, template driven character gen, no-map ship combat... Near revolutionary at the time.
    1. LtPowers's Avatar
      LtPowers -
      Man, I don't know if it would feel right without a Wild Die. The Wild Die is the key (to me) to duplicating those iconic moments from the films.


      Powers &8^]
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